Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

We’re Coming to Little Hulton! Opening 4 November 2014.

Posted by , on October 16th, 2014

For the last 20 years Mustard Tree has been committed to helping the homeless and marginalised across Greater Manchester. For most of that time, we have been operating from our headquarters in Ancoats, where our various projects, courses and training programs are run. At the start of 2012 we also opened a small retail unit in the centre of Eccles, which has provided essential services for clients but without the space to develop our other projects and courses.

Now that our future is secure in Manchester city centre, we’re glad to be expanding our services to Little Hulton, a suburb of Salford from 10:00 on Tuesday, 4 November 2014. We work with around 4,500 people clients a year and for the large number of these who come from the Salford area, we know this new base will make a massive difference, being in a much more convenient location for them to contribute to and benefit from our services.

Mustard Tree is planning to offer the following key services in Unit 50, Little Hulton District Centre, which previously housed the Brierley Community Centre.

  • Providing emergency food parcels, low-cost clothing and furniture.

  • Training, volunteering and employment opportunities to help clients rebuild their lives and progress towards being valued contributors to society.

  • Working with the local community to deliver local solutions and generate local benefits.

This will take time and support to achieve, but we are confident that the Little Hulton base will become an integral part of the Salfordian community. We’re currently working on our opening times so this will be communicated ASAP. Within 6-12 months of establishing our base, we intend to start providing training programmes. From the very beginning, as well as in the long term, we will need volunteers – first to help us with some minor construction work and then for the running of the shop. If you are interested in being part of our new base, look at our volunteering opportunities for more information.

We would like to say a heartfelt thank you to City West Housing Trust and Churches Together for all of their support on this project as we couldn’t have got to where we are without them.

Written by Jamie Faulkner, FireCask

Mustard Tree are Living Wage Employers

Posted by , on August 22nd, 2014

Ahead of Living Wage Week 2014 (2-8 November), we’d like to talk a bit about the living wage: what it is and what it means to us.

Mustard Tree are happy not only to be Living Wage providers but also to raise awareness of this scheme. It is an important extension of our values, which are based on equality, dignity, and respect. And we also know that many people struggle to make ends meet on minimum wage. The living wage, and other policies that address the issue of low-paid workers, can make employees feel less like commodities as well as being part a positive step in the fight against poverty.

But you might well ask what the living wage is? And how it differs from the national minimum wage, which currently stands at £6.31 an hour and will rise to £6.50 in October?

The living wage is promoted by the Living Wage Foundation, an initiative of Citizens UK, and was launched in 2001 by a group of parents in East London. It is designed to cover the basic costs of living.

What constitutes basic costs of living is obviously slightly different from person to person and place to place, but at present the only distinction is between London and the rest of the country. The LWF’s recommended wage is £7.65, which increases to £8.80 an hour for Londoners. Based on 37.5 hour week, the former makes for a salary of £14,918 before tax while the latter gives £17,160.

Unlike the minimum wage, the living wage is not legally enforceable by the government and is an “informal benchmark”; more something that businesses and organisations can aspire and choose to uphold. While the chancellor sets the minimum wage rates, the living wage is calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

You can find a list of Living Wage employers on the Foundation’s website and if you’re a business that isn’t currently paying its staff a living wage you can find details on the site about how to become a Living Wage Employer.

You can also vote in the Living Wage Champions Awards (deadlines close 12th September) for any businesses who you believe have made great contributions to industries and communities by implementing and promoting the living wage. Winners will be announced during this year’s Living Wage Week.

 Adrian Living Wage

CEO, Adrian Nottingham standing proud with our official Living Wage plaque.

Written by Jamie Faulkner, FireCask.

Eccles Garden Party – Fundraiser

Posted by , on August 19th, 2014

Eccles Garden Party Leaflet-page-001

Easyfundraising Golden Ticket Campaign

Posted by , on August 15th, 2014

Easyfundraising is holding a fundraising campaign between Monday 18 – Sunday 31 August in which they will be hiding over 100 golden envelopes containing the equivalent of £2,000 around Manchester. The idea is that when you find an envelope, inside is a golden ticket worth £10, £20, £30 or £50 to Mustard Tree. All you have to do is tweet/post a selfie with the ticket tagging Mustard Tree and including #hiddenfundraising. Easy Fundraising will then donate that amount to us on your behalf. Every day over the 14 days Easyfundraising will be tweeting clues from @easyuk to help you locate them. If you’re up for the challenge, get searching!

#hiddenfundraising golden ticket

Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2014

Posted by , on August 11th, 2014

Every year since 2002, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service honours UK volunteering groups who have made outstanding contributions to their local communities. This year there were 111 recipients of the award, and Mustard Tree was very delighted to be one of them.

Set up to mark the Golden Jubilee, the award is the charity’s equivalent to winning an MBE as an individual. We were one of 13 groups recognised in Greater Manchester, including Wood Street Mission, the Abraham Moss Warriors, and Compassion in Action.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Award Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis CBE said: “With more than 15 million Britons now volunteering at least once a month, this year’s winners of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service have faced some tough competition. By being honoured in this way they have become the latest champions of a great movement whose members play a crucial role in identifying and tackling a whole range of grassroots problems in communities across our country. They represent the very best of democracy in action.”

We couldn’t agree more and are exceptionally proud of all the hard work our volunteers have put in over the years. With their continued help, we hope to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of the homeless and marginalised in Manchester.


Graham, Jim, Leslie, Anthony, Julia, Fiona, Abdul, Ian and Paul on their way to the ceremony.

Graham Hudson, our creative programmes manager, who attended this year’s awards ceremony had this to say:

“The Q.A.V.S. event was a quite grand affair and while listening to the citations read out about the various charities receiving the awards I was genuinely humbled yet at the same time greatly encouraged.

Greater Manchester it was said, had 13 awarded organisations which was more than double of any of the other wards in the north west!

“This is of course double edged, on the one hand, it confirms the massive need within our city yet on the other it highlights the amazing and tireless work that is committed on a daily basis by many, many charity organisations throughout our city and indeed, the country.

“I was extremely honoured to have been asked, alongside one of Mustard Tree’s trustee’s Bronwyn Rapley, to receive the award which I did on behalf of our volunteers, staff, supporters and service users including, those of the past, those of us  present and indeed all those whose lives will be touched by Mustard Tree and Supporters in the future.

“Thank you to all who worked to bring this about. There is though, more to do.”


Vice lord-lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Mrs Edith Conn, Bronwyn, Fiona, Graham and Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Mr Warren J. Smith

And, while we’re on the topic of awards, you can also help us become JustGiving charity of the year by voting for us here.

Why Corporate Volunteering Matters

Posted by , on June 16th, 2014

study by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) shows that in 2012 70% of companies offered employees paid volunteering opportunities, up from 53% in 2007.

This drive towards greater corporate philanthropy is something that Mustard Tree has benefitted from. Sometimes this leads to more than we or the volunteer in question initially intended. For example, Geoff McGuire, who voluntarily runs our 10-week Electronic Music Production Course, became involved with our James Hardy Music Project after he attended a Make a Difference Day organised by his employers Barclays Bank.

Though he was originally involved in repairing part of our building, Geoff got chatting about music to Graham Hudson, our Creative Programmes Manager, and from there he ended up teaching the course and having the opportunity to be a positive influence on our clients.

We already have numerous volunteers who help the charity by offering services such as counselling or teaching back to work skills. We also hold group volunteering days, where 10-20 people spend a full day helping us keep on top of things by refurbishing, cleaning, sorting out stock, and other day-to-day activities. What the collaborative efforts of these groups can achieve is amazing. To think that spaces like our community garden, could not have been built without the tireless effort of numerous volunteers!

But there is always room for more corporate volunteers, with experience in various disciplines over a range of sectors. Not only might they have practical skills that they can pass on to our clients, they could potentially inspire our clients to consider careers they had never even considered. It’s not only about directly helping the clients, but also helping Mustard Tree and our staff so that we can improve the way the charity runs.

Though there are numerous potential benefits for Mustard Tree, the individuals and businesses involved will certainly gain too. Consumers and shareholders are more likely to trust businesses that incorporate good values, and volunteering is an opportunity, especially for local businesses, to build lasting, meaningful relationships with the community. And it differs significantly from a financial donation in that you can see the impact your philanthropy has had, and how it can change lives.

Official Owners Celebration

Posted by , on May 23rd, 2014

On Saturday May 17 Mustard Tree celebrated what will surely be one of the most defining moments in its 20-year history.

We have become official owners of 110 Oldham Road, our warehouse facility headquarters in Ancoats. For nine years we had rented the premises, until recently, when the building’s owner, Anthony Preston, made the immensely charitable gesture of donating it to us.

It is an act of great generosity that will have a hugely positive impact on the lives of the homeless and marginalised that Mustard Tree helps every day. It means we now have long-term security and can really look to invest in the building for the future. To mark the occasion, we invited people to take a tour of the building and meet our staff and volunteers, as well as providing a buffet prepared by one of our ex clients. The event was attended by around 200 people, from volunteers past and present, clients, supporters, and corporate supporters.

Anthony Preston himself made an appearance and was met with a standing ovation, seemingly taken aback by the outpouring of feeling from Mustard Tree supporters. As a token of thanks, we presented him with a scrapbook that included quotes from staff, volunteers and supporters about how his gift of the building made them feel. Mustard Tree will be keeping hold of the scrapbook for a few weeks in order to include even more positive feedback, so if you have any comments you would like the Preston family to read, please do email

Overall, the atmosphere was fantastic, the food was delicious and emotions were high, reflecting the fact that this is truly a game changer for Mustard Tree. Graham Hudson, our Creative Programmes Manager, summed up what the ownership means for the charity: “For me, the overriding theme of the open day event was one of “transformation”. Transformation from a personal perspective, transformation in the sense of our sustainability now that we own the building, the proposed transformation of the building itself and the most important aspect, the continued transformation of individual lives, families and communities throughout Greater Manchester.”

Mustard Tree CEO Adrian Nottingham said of the new ownership: “Due to the remarkable generosity of the Preston Family our main Manchester facilities are now secure, and with the continued help, support and favour of our many friends and partners, we are here for the long haul. The need for Mustard Tree is greater today than it ever has been. This donation is an absolute game changer for us and has come just at the right time. We are already planning how we will complete a necessary refurb and best utilise this incredible asset for the future.”

Our Community Garden

Posted by , on May 20th, 2014

The name Mustard Tree was inspired by the following Biblical parable:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

(Matthew chapter 13, verses 31-32)

It’s only fitting, then, that a charity whose name conjures images of growth, nurture and horticulture should have a community garden. But it was easier said than done, given that our headquarters are in Ancoats, hardly known for being an oasis of greenery.

Behind the building we had a derelict car park, overgrown with weeds and brambles, that had the potential to accommodate such a garden, but, it would take almost two years – from our first application to Manchester City Council in 2010 to the launch event in 2012 – before the community garden became a reality.

This wouldn’t have been possible without a generous grant from the Council’s Regeneration Team and the incredible, tireless effort from a whole load of volunteers. It started with the hard task of digging up all the existing concrete using a mini-digger; then we needed to put down soil so the garden could take shape. In the span of several months a patch of wasteland became a beautiful outdoor area with seating, hanging plants, vegetable patches and improvised flower beds made from old bath tubs and tyres.

Next month, the community garden will celebrate its second anniversary and we’d like to take a moment to talk about the positive impact of this space:

Gardening & Therapy

There has been plenty of literature written about the therapeutic benefits of gardening. Many of our clients suffer from mental health issues, and the community garden can provide a place to improve their emotional and physical well-being. It offers a different environment in which to socialise, and growing and looking after the plants can give a genuine sense of community, shared purpose, and responsibility. Gardening has even been used to treat children with behavioural problems. We are glad that the garden is also of benefit to clients from other organisations based at 110 Oldham Road, in particular from the Boaz Trust.

Gardening Courses

Having a garden means we can also run gardening courses, so that participants can learn the skill they would need to tend to gardens of their own and how to grown organically. The courses are run by Jayne Lawton from Grobox Gardens every Monday at 10:30 am.


The garden also has more immediate uses. We now have a wealth of fresh herbs – mint, sage, chive, fennel – to add to the meals we cook for our staff and volunteers.

Returning to the Biblical parable from which we take our name, the Jewish audience of Jesus’ day would have known that Mustard was one of the plants banned from their own herb gardens due to the unruly size it grew to. They would also have known that “the birds of the air” meant specifically unclean birds – in other words, the kind of “messy people” that most good religious folk wouldn’t want hanging around. So it is especially pleasing that not only our building, but now also our garden, can become a home and a haven for men and women struggling on the margins of society in Greater Manchester.

Written by Jamie Faulkner, FireCask


Posted by , on May 7th, 2014

Homeless people often suffer from a wide range of problems beyond the immediate and obvious lack of accommodation, food and warm clothing.

The biggest single cause of homelessness in the UK is relationship breakdown, which is evidently a distressing factor in its own right. Compounding this, homelessness brings with it uncertainty, anxiety, isolation, trauma and possibly abuse – all of which have adverse health effects, both emotionally and physically. Above all, it’s about loss. Losing a home, a sense of belonging, a support network, security, self-respect, and many other things.

It’s no wonder then that many homeless people have mental health issues, in particular depression, which may have directly contributed to or been brought about by their homelessness. Incredibly rough sleepers are 35 times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population. Even among those who aren’t rough-sleeping and live in temporary accommodation, over 70 per cent admit to being depressed, according to Shelter.

Many suffer from addiction issues that have often been exacerbated by living on the streets. Crime and violence against homeless people are not uncommon either, meaning that rough sleepers especially live in fear of being attacked. What all of this means is that the average homeless person will have undoubtedly suffered some degree of physical and emotional trauma. Trauma that needs to be worked through.

Counselling is just one of the ways we can help homeless people work through the issues they have and ultimately rebuild their lives. It can be instrumental in breaking the dependency caused by alcohol and drug abuse, combatting self-esteem problems and depression, and tackling unhealthy patterns of behaviour that hinder recovery.

Since our formation in 1994, Mustard Tree have helped many people get their lives back on track through our Freedom and Dignity projects, which have included an in-house counselling service for the last three years. Some of stories from people who have taken part in the projects give an insight into how our clients are feeling when they come to us. They reveal the types of problems that we try to address with counselling, including depression, coping with loss, and addiction:

“When I first started volunteering at the Mustard Tree I was an alcoholic. The Freedom Project team have provided me with a mentor, a recovered alcoholic himself, who I meet up with every week. They also referred me onto one of the Mustard Tree counsellors, who I have been meeting with weekly. Thanks to these avenues of support I have now been sober for 11 months.”

“I wanted to get back into a working routine after a long period doing almost nothing. During that time I had been getting more and more depressed and I needed to break that cycle. Up until early last year, I was still planning suicide and things were pretty bleak.”

“Before coming to the Mustard Tree I had been through a string of major life changes. I finished my degree, my mum passed away, my mentor (who was a significant person to me) also passed away and I split up from my long-term girlfriend. I was left in a situation where I felt like I had no life. I’d been a carer, a student and a partner, and all that had gone. When you lose all the things that define you, it is an awful place to be.”

You can read the full Life Stories here to get a better idea of the state of mind of our clients and the types of problems that our counsellors deal with.

We currently have one fully trained counsellor, Melanie Camu, who runs our Ancoats-based service, assisted by two trainee counsellors. Counselling takes place at Mustard Tree three times a week. Currently the service can only be accessed by our Freedom and Dignity Project participants, as part of the work we do in assisting them to rebuild their lives.

We are looking to expand this service in the near future by adding additional qualified volunteer counsellors to the team. If you have the spare time to give to our clients, we would very much like to hear from you. Please contact for further information.

Written by Jamie Faulkner, FireCask

The Importance of Soup Runs

Posted by , on April 30th, 2014

Soup runs, or soup kitchens, have a longstanding place in the mainstream provision for homeless people.

It is thought that the first soup runs emerged in the late 18th century and were invaluable over the following centuries, especially during economic crises like the Irish Famine and the Great Depression. The global financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures have seen an increase in the use of soup kitchens as more people find themselves in vulnerable financial situations.

Despite their good intentions, soup runs have met with criticism over the years. In 1834 soup kitchens were actually made illegal in Britain under the Poor Law Amendment Act, partly because they attracted so-called vagrants. The most notable recent censure was Westminster’s planned ban of soup runs (as well as rough sleeping) around Westminster cathedral in 2011. The plans were eventually dropped, but they demonstrate the ongoing strength of feeling against the practice of giving free hot food to those on the streets.

In what has become an increasingly polarised debate, those against soup runs claim that such activities encourage dependency, serve many people who are not homeless, and even sustain rough sleeping. For their part, soup-run organisers have countered that they are feeding some of the most vulnerable people in society and responding to an immediate need.

Given the endemic food poverty in Britain and the drastic increase in the number of foodbanks, it’s clear that there are more people than just the homeless who can and should benefit from soup runs.  Most soup runs are indiscriminate in whom they serve and admit that they are aware that many of their users are not rough sleepers or homeless.

At Mustard Tree we see the benefit that soup runs can have. Each and every Friday evening, between 7 and 9pm, we serve hot, nutritious meals at our Ancoats headquarters. We cater for around 70 people who not only live on the streets, but also in hostels or other types of temporary accommodation.

And while we realise that soup runs can’t address all the issues of the attendees, we also know that they do much more than simply feed. To those who might be isolated and marginalised, they offer an opportunity to talk and socialise. We can also talk about the work that the charity does, and point them in the direction of other services that can help, as well signpost them to the Mustard Tree headquarters where they can receive blankets and warm clothing.

Furthermore, soup runs act as fundamental first step in starting relationships with clients; a chance, albeit brief, to develop a trusting relationship that may help in the future. It could be the vital link between providing people with a hand-out, and giving them the opportunity to receive a hand-up from one of our other services.

We are always looking for volunteers to help on these soup runs. If you’re interested in becoming involved, you can find out more information on our volunteering page.

And if you, or someone you know, are in desperate need of food, you can download our soup kitchen dates and times document.

Written by Jamie Faulkner, FireCask